The Ultimate Guide to Calcium

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Calcium

All living organisms, including humans, need calcium for survival. As the most abundant mineral in the human body, calcium is essential for building and maintaining strong and healthy bones. Beyond that, the mineral is also necessary for healthy brain-and-body communication and muscular and cardiovascular function

Calcium naturally occurs in several foods – but is also routinely added to various products. Calcium supplements are also available.

Related: Calcium’s Importance for Optimal Health

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Calcium

Adequate calcium intake is crucial across all age groups. RDAs vary according to gender and age, but the minimum amount starts at 1,000mg daily. 

Here is a breakdown of the RDAs for adults and elderly individuals:

Adults aged 50 and below: 1,000mg

Adults aged 51 -70 (males): 1,000mg

Adults aged 51 -70 (females): 1,200 mg

Typically, healthcare practitioners would also advise a higher calcium intake for Individuals who are going through (or have gone through):

  • Menopause
  • Pregnancy
  • Lactation
  • Cessation of the menstrual cycle due to excessive exercise or anorexia nervosa

Why Is It Important to Monitor Your Calcium Intake?

Many national nutrition surveys indicate that most people fail to get the necessary calcium to build and maintain strong, healthy bones. This is a worrying phenomenon; studies consistently highlight the association between low calcium intake, fracture rates, and low bone mass. Thus, getting inadequate amounts of calcium daily could harm your health. 

But, more worryingly still, there are no early-stage symptoms of low calcium intake because your body will first try to regulate its calcium levels by leaching the mineral from bones. And when left untreated, hypocalcemia can result in various severe health conditions, including:

  • Low bone mass, known as osteopenia
  • Increased bone fractures
  • Osteoporosis

 

Calcium is necessary for strong bones and teeth, optimal muscle and nerve movements, and proper brain-body communication. The mineral is also vital for regulating vascular smooth muscle contractility (i.e., blood vessel functioning). In other words: calcium ensures the delivery of enzymes and hormones to the various body parts that need them. Thus, explaining why it’s so essential for you to be mindful of your calcium intake. Thankfully, Vivoo offers you a way of checking on that without stepping into a medical lab.

milk

Calcium in Urine – Evaluation of Calcium Intake with Urine

Urine calcium levels are a reflection of dietary calcium intake. The adult human body stores about 1-1,5 kg of calcium (mainly in the skeleton). A tiny percentage of the stored calcium is found in extracellular fluid – and can be used as ionized calcium, a process tightly regulated by the parathyroid hormone (PTH). 

Calcium found in the foods you eat is absorbed through the lining of your small intestine – and into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, your body uses it to build bones and regulate blood vessels’ expansion and contractions, among other things. Your body then passes anything “extra” into the gastrointestinal and urinary tract, where the calcium will be eliminated as feces and urine. Of course, a small percentage of it is also released via deposition in the bone and sweat.

A healthy adult urine sample retrieved over twenty-four hours is expected to contain “between 50-250 mg/day and 20% of the dietary calcium is excreted in the urine.” So, if your urine contains anything less than this, it’s highly indicative that you may be getting inadequate amounts of calcium through your diet. 

What do you measure with Vivoo?

The Vivoo Calcium Parameter measures the calcium/creatinine rate because it’s strongly correlated with urine calcium excretion over twenty-four hours.

“Creatinine, a byproduct of muscle metabolism, is normally released into the urine at a constant rate, and its level in the urine is an indication of the urine concentration. This property of creatinine allows its measurement to be used to correct for urine concentration when measuring calcium in a random urine sample.”

Low Urine Calcium

Low urine calcium level occurs when the calcium levels in your urine are lower than average. However, this may not necessarily indicate a medical condition, and low urinary calcium levels may result from other factors. 

Reasons for low urinary calcium levels include:

  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Malabsorption of nutrients
  • Poor calcium intake via diet
  • Hypoparathyroidism 
  • Renal failure
  • Excessive laxative use

Long-term Negative Consequences of Low Urine Calcium 

calcium for health

Low urinary calcium levels indicate that you’re failing to get adequate amounts of dietary calcium. There are no early-stage symptoms of low calcium intake because your body will first try to regulate its calcium levels by leaching the mineral from bones. But when left untreated, hypocalcemia can result in various severe health conditions, including:

  • Extreme fatigue 
  • Muscle cramps, stiff and achy muscles
  • Cataracts
  • Osteoporosis (fragile and brittle bones vulnerable to injuries and fractures)
  • Osteopenia (low bone density)
  • Nail and skin problems 
  • Severe PMS (premenstrual syndrome) – Low calcium or vitamin D levels may contribute to PMS symptoms during the second half of a woman’s menstrual cycle.
  • Dental issues –  Since calcium levels are low; the body tries to balance it by pulling calcium from the bones and the teeth. As a result, this ultimately leads to dental issues like brittle teeth, tooth decay, weak tooth roots, and irritated gums.

In Which Situations Should You Pay Extra Attention to Calcium Intake?

There are no early-stage symptoms of low calcium intake, as has been repeatedly mentioned. But the harmful effects accumulate over time. Eventually, when left untreated for extended periods, hypocalcemia can cause devastating effects on the body.

Healthcare practitioners would typically advise a higher calcium intake for the following individuals:

  • Pregnant women (especially pregnant women in their third trimester)
  • Postmenopausal women
  • Lactating women
  • People who avoid dairy products 
  • Individuals who have an eating disorder like anorexia
  • Elderly men
  • Individuals who are on medication due to osteoporosis
  • People with parathyroid disorders
  • People with kidney or liver diseases
  • People with inflammatory bowel disease

Optimal Urine Calcium

Optimal urine calcium indicates that your urinary calcium level is average. Note that there is no fixed value for a healthy urinary calcium level – instead, there is a range. More specifically, “the normal amount of calcium in calcium that is excreted through the urinary tract is 50-200 mg/day, depending on the diet.”

Other factors – like health-related issues, age, and certain medications – could also affect how much calcium an individual needs daily. A urine calcium value considered normal for others may not be for you.

Importance of Staying at an Optimal Level

It would help if you were intentional about monitoring your calcium intake; doing so ensures that you’re getting enough of it to achieve optimal health and wellness.

The health benefits of meeting your daily calcium requirements include PMS symptoms relief, high blood pressure, and weight management. Of course, it will also promote the health of your bones and teeth. 

calcium during weight control

High Urine Calcium

High urine calcium levels occur when the calcium levels in your urine are higher than expected. Usually, in instances like this, your body will attempt to restore balance by storing surplus amounts in bones or expelling them through stool and urine. High urinary calcium levels are typically defined as above 300mg/day. 

What Could Be the Reasons?

High urinary calcium levels could result from:

  • Hyperparathyroidism – a condition in which the parathyroid hormone is produced in excess by the parathyroid gland. It may cause fatigue, sore bones, and back pain.
  • Excessive vitamin D intake
  • Kidney failure/disease
  • Diuretics 
  • Calcium leakage from the kidney into the urine
  • Milk-alkali syndrome – results from high calcium intake, usually seen in individuals taking supplements to prevent osteoporosis.
  • Idiopathic hypercalciuria happens when there is no reason for the high calcium levels in your urine.

calcium intake

Long-term Negative Consequences of High Urine Calcium

There are no early-stage symptoms of high calcium intake. But the harmful effects accumulate over time eventually leading to devastating consequences on health. 

Below, please find a list of what could happen when it is left untreated.

Bones and Muscle

One of the leading causes of high urinary calcium levels is the body’s leaching of the mineral from bones, which weakens the bones – and can manifest in pain and tired muscles. 

Heart

Although rare, it could also adversely impact your heart health – causing problems like heart palpitations (among others).

Digestive System

It could cause digestive issues like upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. 

Individuals who take calcium medications or supplements (typically for osteoporosis) may also experience the above-mentioned adverse effects. In other words: people with too much calcium in their body could share the same side effects as those who have too little. 

Calcium and Healthy Diets

Your body cannot produce calcium, which means you need to get it from external sources, including food and supplements. 

Calcium is found in a variety of foods. Some of these foods include:

  • Dairy products (yogurt, cheese, and milk)
  • Fish possessing soft and edible bones (canned salmon, sardines)
  • Dark leafy greens (spinach, broccoli, collard greens, kale)
  • Calcium-fortified beverages, foods, and cereals (fruit juices, bran, raisins)
  • Fortified soymilk
  • Enriched waffles, bread, and grains
  • Seeds (chia seeds, sesame, poppy)

 

Vitamin D helps absorb calcium, so it’s necessary to ensure your vitamin D intake. Foods rich in vitamin D include egg yolks and salmon.  

Listen to your body’s voice today

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